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Canadian Journal of Law and Technology

Abstract

3D printing technology is part of a new economic movement, termed the sharing economy, where consumers rely less on large corporations for supplying them with products. The technology allows consumers to bypass the traditional manufacturing process. Instead, consumers increasingly share and sell products to each other on online sharing platforms. Consumers can download digital copies of products and print them in the convenience of their homes. In addition, they can repair and modify these products to suit their needs. Canadian patent law permits the repair of a patent-protected item but prohibits its reconstruction. However, the line between repair and reconstruction is unclear, which can cause tensions between consumers and patent-holders. This article argues that consumers should be given an allencompassing right to repair and modify legally purchased goods for private purposes using 3D printing technology if the repair or modification is not shared with others for a profit. This would give consumers the freedom to share their designs for free while still protecting patent-protected items from piracy. On a broader scale, the proposed legal right would encourage the sharing economy and build positive relationships between consumers and patent-holders.

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